Published: May 22, 2001
The Art of Charles Sidney Hopkinson at Vose Galleries
BOSTON, MASS. – Vose Galleries will have their third one-man exhibition of watercolors and oil paintings by Boston painter Charles Sidney Hopkinson (1869-1962). The exhibition will run through June 30.
At a time in the early Nineteenth Century when Boston embraced traditional academic painting, there was little tolerance for Charles Hopkinson’s foray into the modernism that was gripping Europe and New York. While Hopkinson had built an impressive reputation as a traditional portraitist, he found the work confining and continually struggled to break free from rules of the past. His colleagues, loosely described as the Boston School, and the Boston press had little respect for Hopkinson’s radical use of blurred lines, fragmented shapes and emotionally charged color.
Undeterred, Hopkinson continued his experiments with modernist ideas and was one of only five Bostonians to enter works in the Armory Show of 1913. In 1927 he helped to found the Boston Society of Independent Artists, an organization that offered exhibition space for young artists excluded from Boston’s established galleries.
Hopkinson’s innovative spirit found its most modern expressions in watercolor, a medium he used freely, without restraint, and without concern for how they might be received. Here he played with abstracted forms and indulged in fluid brush work and brilliant color. Like American modernists Marsden Hartley and Arthur Dove, he was invigorated by the light, rhythms and textures that he perceived in the natural world.
At first he did not intend to exhibit his watercolors, but by 1920 he joined with four other Boston painters who were also using watercolor in innovative ways: Charles Hovey Pepper, Marion Monks Chase, Harley Perkins and Carl Gordon Cutler. They called themselves the Boston Five and over the next 15 years, they exhibited their works together at the Boston Art Club, Vose Galleries and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard.
The current exhibition will include over 100 new examples of Hopkinson’s work, most of which have been preserved in the Hopkinson family until this time, including several graceful oil portraits of his family. The primary focus of the show, however, is his innovative watercolor techniques. Included are numerous scenes depicting the rugged beauty of his Manchester, Mass. home, as well as sites in New Hampshire, Hawaii, Bermuda, Ireland, France and New Zealand.
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